Jewel of the Seas – That’s Entertainment

Susan Bigmore asked:

One of the things that tend to stick in cruisers’ minds is the onboard entertainment. Gone are the days of second-rate entertainers and the same old shows. Today, a lot of effort is put in to organising entertainment on cruise ships and the entertainers could well be stars of the future. Who remembers Jane McDonald appearing on the documentary The Cruise? Also, Claire Sweeney, who appeared in Brookside, started off her career singing on cruise ships. You could also be wowed by stars from the present and past – I was pleased to see that Kelly Monteith (the American equivalent of Dave Allen) is going strong and can be seen on some Royal Caribbean cruises.

Inspired by my recent trip to see Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, I decided to find out more about the entertainment onboard having heard so much about it. Royal Caribbean prides itself on its entertainment programme. You could be forgiven for thinking you’re actually in the West End rather than in the Coral Theatre onboard Jewel of the Seas. Shows include “From West End to Broadway” featuring musical numbers from Cole Porter to Les Miserable, “City of Dreams” with music from artists such as Elton John and Celine Dion, and “Tango Buenos Aires” starring Argentine dancers and musicians. Shows are put on twice each night to tie in with the two dinner sittings, so you won’t miss out, and are not repeated during the cruise – just the thing for theatre lovers.

As well as being wowed in the Coral Theatre onboard Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, you can take part in numerous activities throughout the day, including gaming lessons (perfect for trying to make your fortune in the casino), game shows and piano lessons.

I went behind the scenes to ask Bobby Brown, the Cruise Director on Jewel of the Seas, a few questions about the entertainment onboard the ship. Born in Scotland, Bobby started his entertainment career at a very young 5 years old, competing in ballroom dancing competitions around the world. In 1998 he moved to London where he met his wife and together they competed professionally in ballroom dancing, reaching the rank of 19th in the world (a future dancer on Strictly Come Dancing perhaps). Bobby first started working in the cruise industry when he joined Sun Line Cruises in 1993 before moving to Royal Caribbean in 1995.

How long have you been in charge of entertainment on Jewel of the Seas?

Since November 2006, but I have been with Royal Caribbean International since 1995, when I started as cruise activities staff on Legend of the Seas. I moved to assistant cruise director in 1996 on Majesty of the Seas and was then promoted to Cruise Director in 1997. I have served on Legend of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas.

How far ahead do you plan the entertainment itinerary?

Guest entertainers can be booked as much as one year in advance, although we do have changes in the entertainment schedule sometimes just days before the start of the cruise. Guest activities are finalized only days before a cruise starts as we keep up to date with the final figures for guest demographics.

What is your favourite part of being in charge of entertainment?

Seeing smiles on the guests’ faces and hearing their comments about how much they enjoyed the entertainer.

Which show has been your favourite so far?

Ben Vereen (US star of stage and TV), Gordy Brown (singer impersonator who is big in Las Vegas) and Scott Record (US singing comedy impressionist).

Who is the most famous person you have had onboard providing entertainment?

Ben Vereen.

Inside Cruise: For those of you haven’t heard of Ben Vereen, he started his career in Broadway during the 1960s and has also appeared on TV (including Star Trek: The Next Generation and Grey’s Anatomy) and in films (including Funny Lady and All That Jazz).

Who would you like to have as part of the entertainment?

Scott Record, an incredible act. His show is unbelievable and I have seen him get a standing ovation in the first 10 minutes of his show. He is the only act I know that sings New York, New York as if it was skipping on an old juke box!

How many entertainment staff are onboard?

In all there are 71 onboard made up of 4 singers, 8 dancers, 25 musicians,11 technicians, 10 youth staff, 2 sports staff and 11 activities staff.

Phew! With such a range of quality entertainers and acts onboard you’ll be hard pushed to be bored on Jewel of the Seas.

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